Unity abandons Flash support after questioning Adobe’s commitment

img_media_ss_u3_06_largeAs Unity Technologies’ star has risen in recent years, one of the most significant and impressive parts of the development platform is how well suited it is to browser gaming. People have been regularly playing video games right in Firefox, Internet Explorer, and (more recently) Chrome for years and years, but few of them were as deep or graphically intensive as those made with the Unity Engine. MechWarrior TacticsOffensive Combat, and others look and play just as well as many games people use a console for, all on a multipurpose machine most people have access to.

Even the old guard of Adobe Flash game developers could use Unity. Unity, like all things, is changing though. As the company pursues support of new platforms, it’s phasing out old ones and Flash is the first on the chopping block.

“As of today, we will stop selling Flash deployment licenses,” wrote Unity CEO David Helgason in an announcement on Tuesday, “We will continue to support our existing Flash customers throughout the 4.x cycle.” 

Flash support is actually a recent development for Unity, and it isn’t too widely used just yet. Stomp Games’ Robot Rising (pictured above) and Defiant Development’s Ski Safari are the only two games built on Unity’s Flash tools listed in the company’s directory. Developer interest in using Flash isn’t the problem according to Helgason, though it is a factor. The biggest factor is Adobe’s recent policy changes. 

“We don’t see Adobe being firmly committed to the future development of Flash,” says Helgason. “By producing, and then abandoning, a revenue sharing model, Adobe eroded developers’ (and our) trust in Flash as a dependable, continuously improving platform.” 

It was only in March 2012 that Adobe announced it would start charging a 9-percent revenue sharing set up with game developers making graphically intensive, high grossing games. This coincided with the announcement of Flash Player 11.2 and a new partnership with Unity to push these sorts of high-end browser games on the platform. Just one year later, however, Adobe backed away from this set up, leaving Unity in a lurch.

Adobe acknowledges the same fact that Unity does: Developers are moving away from Flash. “Adobe sees increasing interest and promise in HTML-based gaming,” says the company in selling its own tools to developers.

Helgason too says that developers interested in using Unity for browser games prefer the company’s Web Player plug-in rather than Flash.


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